Education, The Sailer Scheme, And The Bush-Obama Era


Are we in the middle of what future
historians will refer to as the Bush-Obama Era?

That might sound bizarre—until you notice
the continuity of policy on crucial issues such as the

economy
and

immigration
. Remarkably, under Obama, much of the
conventional wisdom of the Bush years continues to reign
unquestioned.

Education policy showcases the stability
of the Bush-Obama Age. Last week`s big

speech
on schools given by President Obama to the
Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
was essentially a sequel to
President Bush`s

speeches
on the same topic in 2001.

Granted, Bush didn`t start his orations
on American education by leading mass chanting in Spanish as
Obama just

did
:

THE PRESIDENT: “Thank you. [Applause.]


Si se
puede.

AUDIENCE: “Si se
puede!


Si se puede! Si se
puede!

Somehow, though, I suspect that Bush is
now kicking himself that he didn`t think of that cool
opening.
Si se puede!”
Wow!

Since the topic is schooling, let`s
take a test.

Which President

orated
:

“The highest percentage increase in our budget
should go to our children`s education. Education is my top
priority and by supporting this budget, you will make it
yours as well. … Measuring is the only way to know whether

all our children are learning
—and I want to know,
because I refuse to leave any child behind. … “

  1. Barack Obama

  2. George W. Bush

  3. Dwight Eisenhower

It definitely wasn`t C. When
Sputnik
alerted America in 1957 that we were in a
dead-serious competition with the Soviet Union for
technological mastery of ballistic missiles, the 1958

National Defense Education Act
responded by delivering

stronger education to the
stronger students
—where
the highest return on investment was attainable. In
contrast, both Bush and Obama believe in investing more
where the ROI is lowest.

OK, you can tell from the clunky prose
style that the quotes above come from Bush in 2001. But the
philosophy remains the same.

In his speech last week, Obama told the
Hispanic Chamber of Commerce:

“And yet, despite resources that are unmatched
anywhere in the world, we`ve let our grades slip, our
schools crumble, our
teacher
quality
fall short, and other nations outpace us. Let me
give you a few statistics.”[Transcript,
March 10, 2009]

Uh-oh. Obama is into words, not numbers,
so his rhetorical statistics tend to be half-digested

factoids
that raise more questions than they answer:

“In 8th grade math, we`ve fallen to 9th place. Singapore`s
middle-schoolers outperform ours three to one. Just a third
of our 13- and 14-year-olds can read as well as they
should.”

How
do
American students do compared to foreigners?

A lot of data are available. But we should
be cautious about using international achievement tests such
as TIMSS,
PIRLS,
and the

PISA
to compare the schools in different countries.

Think of the technical challenges faced by
the testing agencies. It`s not easy to make all the
translations of the test equally difficult, to get

equally representative national samples
to take the
test, and to get the test-takers in each country to try
equally hard. After all, in contrast to high-stakes tests
like the SAT, where students have a personal incentive to do
well, and medium-stakes tests like the various NCLB school
achievement tests where the principal and teachers are
motivated
to not have their federal funds cut, these are low-stakes
tests with little riding on them other than national
bragging rights.

Moreover, studying test results you
notice one main thing: countries with racially similar
populations tend to score about the same.

For example, here are the 2007 Trends
in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)
results for eighth grade math.

Grade eight

Country

Average score

TIMSS scale average

500

Chinese Taipei

598

Korea, Rep. of

597

Singapore

593

Hong Kong SAR1, 4

572

Japan

570

Hungary

517

England4

513

Russian Federation

512

United States4, 5

508

Lithuania2

506

Czech Republic

504

Slovenia

501

Armenia

499

Australia

496

Sweden

491

Malta

488

Scotland4

487

Serbia2, 5

486

Italy

480

Malaysia

474

Norway

469

Cyprus

465

Bulgaria

464

Israel7

463

Ukraine

462

Romania

461

Bosnia and Herzegovina

456

Lebanon

449

Thailand

441

Turkey

432

Jordan

427

Tunisia

420

Georgia2

410

Iran, Islamic Rep. of

403

Bahrain

398

Indonesia

397

Syrian Arab Republic

395

Egypt

391

Algeria

387

Colombia

380

Oman

372

Palestinian Nat`l Auth.

367

Botswana

364

Kuwait6

354

El Salvador

340

Saudi Arabia

329

Ghana

309

Qatar

307

As you can see, the scores fall clearly
into three categories.

  • At the top of the Math chart
    are five affluent countries populated by

    Northeast Asians
    .

  • The next 22 countries are
    made up of the U.S., 18 European countries,

    Armenia
    (which is technically in Asia),

    Israel
    (which has a substantial European minority)
    and Malaysia (which has a sizable Chinese minority).

  • And then comes the Third
    World, with the countries that you`d expect to be
    relatively smart, like

    Lebanon
    and

    Thailand
    at the top, and the usual suspects at the
    bottom.

Not surprisingly, these results from
school achievement tests

correlate
closely with the

IQ test data
by country assembled by

Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen
.

Within these geographic categories,
it`s not terribly clear why a country is near the top or the
bottom.

Oil-rich Norway, for instance, did
poorly relative to the rest of Europe. Are the schools bad
in Norway? Were the test-takers unmotivated? I don`t know …

But with all those caveats in mind, the
U.S. has done fairly well in math.

When it comes to reading, the
2006 PIRLS
test
of 4th graders found that the Northeast Asians did
about as well as the Europeans, with Third World countries
bringing up the rear again. The 2006

PISA
test of 15-year-olds` knowledge of science came out
about the same as the PIRLS, overall, with Europeans and
Northeast Asians at the top, and the Third World trailing.
While the U.S. tended to do above the European average on
TIMMS and PIRLS, we were mediocre on PISA.

A 2005 report called
Is
the United States Really Losing the International Horse Race
in Academic Achievement?
by Erling E. Boe and Sujie
Shin of the University of Pennsylvania Education School gave
a plausible answer to its title question:

“…when compared with students in other industrialized nations, U.S.
students do not perform poorly on international achievement
surveys. Instead, they perform better than average overall
across six international surveys, three grade levels, and
four subjects.”

Boe and Shin bravely focus on the
crucial fact to be kept in mind when comparing U.S.
performance to that of other countries:

“Not only does the U.S. have the largest gross domestic product among
the G7 nations
[Canada, France,
Germany, Italy, Japan, UK, USA],
but it also has by far the largest and most racially and
ethnically diverse population and the largest number of
partially autonomous states.”

The large black and Hispanic minorities
drag down the U.S. scores. Boe and Shin sum up:

“… achievement scores of white students in the U.S.
were consistently higher than those of students in the
Western
G5 nations
, even though these nations were predominantly
white. By comparison, the scores of U.S. black and Hispanic
students were very low and well below those of the other
nations. This is compelling evidence that the low scores of
these two groups of minority students were major factors in
reducing the comparative standing of the U.S. in
international surveys of achievement. If these minority
students were to perform at the same level as white
students, the U.S. would lead all the other G7 nations
(including
Japan
) in reading and would lead the Western G5 nations
in
mathematics and science
, though it

would still trail Japan
in these subjects.”

Obama orated:

“And year after year, a

stubborn gap persists
between how well white students
are doing compared to their African American and Latino
classmates.”

Yes, but how are their

Asian classmates
doing? Rather like those Singaporean

middle-schoolers
, I

suspect
.

The President went on:

“The relative decline of American education is untenable for our
economy, it`s unsustainable for our democracy, it`s
unacceptable for our children—and we can`t afford to let it
continue.”

Obama complained:

“In just a single generation, America has fallen from 2nd place to 11th
place in the portion of students completing college.”

But much of that American decline has
to do with letting in a huge number of immigrants from Latin
American cultures that don`t much value hitting the books
hard.

And this is not a problem that`s going
to disappear through the magic of automatic assimilation,
either. A recent landmark study by sociologists with the
UCLA Chicano Studies Department found that only
six
percent
of 4th
generation Mexican-Americans


graduated from college
, compared to 35 percent of
their
“Anglo” counterparts
.

The
real problem
American educational attainment is facing is the

growth
of the
“Non-Asian Minority”
[NAM] share of the population,
especially

Hispanics
.

(More details on the

curate`s egg nature
of American K-12 test results, and
the role of demographic change, are in
Peter Brimelow`s
education book
The Worm In The
Apple
. Peter pointed out, however, that regardless
of results the U.S. education system is extremely costly
i.e. inefficient by international standards.)

Clearly, we`re in a hole and we need to
do something about it.

What`s the first thing you should do
when you find yourself in a hole?


Stop digging.

As Obama admits,
“year after year, a
stubborn gap persists”
in educational performance
between (NAMs) and whites. So why lower the average
scholastic achievement of America further by continuing to
allow in unskilled immigrants?

We have an opportunity now to improve
the average performance of the next generation of
schoolchildren in America: offering to pay to fly home
unemployed illegal immigrants. It`s cheaper for all
concerned for them to be jobless back home.

This is a special case of what VDARE.com
has called The Sailer
Scheme
, paying undesirable immigrants to go away. I
proposed this recent, financial-crisis friendly version in a
column
asking if jobs in the proposed infrastructure boondoggle
would be reserved for American citizens, as during the New
Deal. (Answer: apparently not.)

Will Obama recommend such a sensible
step? I don`t know.

But I think we can guess by merely
asking: Did Bush?

[Steve Sailer (email
him) is


movie critic
for


The American Conservative
.

His website

www.iSteve.blogspot.com

features his daily blog. His new book,

AMERICA`S HALF-BLOOD PRINCE: BARACK OBAMA`S
"STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE", is
available


here
.]